As the Knicks continue to search for their first win, their main offseason pickup has been missing in action.
Former Knicks first-round pick Tim Hardaway Jr. was brought back on a four-year, $71-million contract to be one of the players the team could build around and help fill some of the scoring void left when Carmelo Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City.
Three games into this Knicks season, Hardaway is averaging 9.3 points, shooting a team-worst 24.3 percent from the field and hasn’t shown he’s improved defensively as he did in Atlanta.
Hardaway was 2-for-11 and scored six points in Tuesday’s 21-point loss to the Celtics and did little to prevent Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from scoring.
“I’m not playing the way I wanted to play and it [stinks],” Hardaway said. “You’ve got to move on, get back in the gym and work. My teammates have my back. They’re giving me confidence each and every day so I go out there and play.”
The rebuilding Knicks are already a frustrated team, which isn’t a good sign when the calendar hasn’t even reached Halloween yet. Even scarier was veteran guard Courtney Lee sounding an alarm by saying some Knicks don’t know the plays after Tuesday’s loss.
Lee said the Knicks have wasted many possessions because people are out of position on offense, not passing the ball on time, and it’s forcing Kristaps Porzingis to work much harder than he should.
“If you don’t know something, if you don’t understand something it’s OK to ask questions because we all need to be on the same page,” Lee said. “So when we go out there everybody is connected as one. Guys that are on the team and know the position, know the plays, if somebody doesn’t understand, then we’ve got to do a better job as a unit getting those guys the information that they need so we can go out here and be successful as far as executing.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re in the right position, we know the plays and we’ve got to make sure we execute. KP is using so much energy to try to get open and get in a position where he needs the ball, and by the time he gets it he’s tired because the defense did their job as far as battling and fighting. If we’re not in those right spots it doesn’t make it easier on ourselves or him. We’ve got to help each other out and especially help him out.”
The Knicks, who did not practice Wednesday, are averaging a league-low 93.3 points and their 15.4-point average margin of defeat is second-worst in the NBA. The Knicks are also 24th in shooting percent (42.9) and last in three-point shooting (24.2).
That’s another area Hardaway was supposed to help. But he’s just 5-for-22 on three-pointers after his 0-for-5 performance from deep against Boston.
Hardaway was the Knicks’ best player in the preseason. He averaged 17.8 points in five games and shot 50.7 percent overall and 43.2 percent from three. He has been playing through an ankle issue, but he’s not using that as an excuse for his disappointing start.
“If I’m out there that means I’m 100 percent,” Hardaway said. “There’s no excuse on the ankle, no excuse on anything.
“When the ball’s in my mind and I feel like I have daylight I feel like it’s leaving my hand really good, just like it did in preseason. It’s just either too long or too short, but they’re all on line. And some rattle in, some rattle out. But I’m not going to stop shooting, keep on shooting the ball. That’s what I’m here for, that’s what I do.”